Art and Color: Tips for Artists and the Meaning of Colors
Learn more about the colors meaning, there are interesting meaning in every of color.
The Color White: Pure, Cold, and Clean
White isn’t a primary, secondary, or tertiary color. Scientifically speaking, it’s actually the combination of all colors in the visible spectrum of light. What the color white means to us psychologically: The color white is usually defined by what it’s not—white should have no color in it and no markings or flaws.
To some people, that makes white very sterile, clean, and uninviting. They see white like an operating room, too antiseptic to be comfortable. To others, white simply suggests a no frills, plain-Jane style—function over style.
White can also seems cold to us as well. Snow and ice are a brilliant white, which has a powerful impact on how we view its “temperature.” And although it’s probably more of a cultural thing, white is often viewed as the color of moral purity and goodness.
Types of white pigments and white oil paints (Titanium, Zinc), where white sits on the color wheel, and even some famous white paintings.
The Color Brown: Plain, Predictable, and Safe
Brown isn’t a primary, secondary, or tertiary color; instead it’s actually a dark orange or a neutral red, and doesn’t appear on the painter’s color wheel.
What the color brown means to us psychologically: We see the color brown as boring and predictable; there’s nothing ever outrageous or unsettling about brown. It’s a natural color too, so like green it makes us think of nature and the outdoors, specifically trees, dirt, and mud.
The Color Pink: Feminine, Flirtatious, and Sexual
Read about the color pink. What pinks mean to us mentally and emotionally, how to mix pink oil paint (mixing red and white), where pink sits on the color wheel, and even some famous pink paintings.
The Color Black: Morbid, Powerful, and Timeless
Black isn’t a primary, secondary, or tertiary color. In fact, black isn’t on the artist’s color wheel and usually isn’t considered a color at all. Instead, black appears when you bring ANY color to it’s darkest value (although that’s not always possible with oils.)
What the color black means to us psychologically: Black means a few different things, and almost all of them have negative connotations. That’s because humankind’s instinctively fear the darkness, and anything that lurks in the night. Black is a bold, powerful color with a true "dark" side. Death, depression, and fear; timelessness and mystery, all are part of the color black.
The Color Orange: Hot, Fast and Fun
Orange is one of three secondary colors along with green and purple. Its traditional complementary color is blue, which sits directly opposite it on the painter’s color wheel.
What orange means to us psychologically: The color orange is a visually dominant color, mixing the brightness of yellow with the power of red. A truly vivid orange is not a color that relaxes people. Instead, it energizes some and distracts others. Orange is the “hottest” color, due to its association with the sun and the color of flame.
In addition, we generally considered tanned (more orange) skin as healthy, attractive skin—and although we know now that constant tanning isn‘t good for you in the long run, there are still some “healthy,” or “physically fit” connotations that go along with the color orange.
Types of orange pigments and oil paints (cadmium, or mixing red and yellow), where orange sits on the color wheel, and even some famous orange paintings.
The Color Purple: Feminine, Rare, and Royal
Purple (or violet) is one of three secondary colors along with green and orange. Its traditional complementary color is yellow, which sits directly opposite it on the artist’s color wheel.
What purple means to us psychologically: Purple is an interesting color—we often use the word purple to describe hues ranging from deep blue purple (what you might call indigo) through reddish purple (like maroon) and even on to fluorescent (almost pink) hot purple.
The emotional response that we have to purple depends a lot on where the color falls between red and blue.
A cold, blue purple can be a little aloof (almost austere or snobbish) and many times feel rather old fashioned. Reddish purple on the other hand, tends to feel rich and luxurious.
Types of purplish pigments and purple oil paints (dioxazine, quinacridone, ultramarine), where purple sits on the color wheel, and even some famous purple paintings.
The Color Yellow: Cheerful, Happy, and Warm
Yellow is one of three primary colors along with red and blue. Its complementary color is violet (purple), which sits directly opposite it on the color wheel.
What yellow means to us psychologically: Yellow is a happy, cheerful color. It’s permanently linked with sunlight and warmth, bringing (to my mind at least) thoughts of summer days and a feeling of contentment. The color yellow is also psychologically linked with gold, and therefore occasionally indicates wealth or prestige.
Types of yellow pigments and oil paints (cadmium, hansa, ochre), where yellow sits on the color wheel, and even some famous yellow paintings.
The Color Blue: Peaceful, Authoritative, and Powerful
Blue is a primary color along with red and yellow. Its traditional complementary color is orange, which sits directly opposite it on the artist’s color wheel.
Psychology and the meaning of blue:
Although there are many different hues of blue, almost all of them are appealing and refreshing.
As the predominant color of the sky, as well as lakes, streams and oceans; blue indicates freedom and space and therefore is one of the more relaxing colors in the spectrum.
Types of blue pigments and oil paints (ultramarine, phthalo, cobalt), where blue sits on the color wheel, and even some famous blue paintings.
The Color Red: Danger, Passion, and Power
Red is one of three primary colors along with yellow and blue. It’s the complementary color of green and sits opposite to it on the traditional artists color wheel.
The psychological meaning of red: Red has always been symbolic of blood and life. The universal color of blood binds us all together, giving us a common point of empathy for anyone that’s hurting.
Perhaps because of that connection to pain, the color red is also used as a warning. As the most intense and easily seen color, our eyes and minds quickly become trained to understand that red means STOP—making us think before proceeding.
And, since red is such an intense, hot color, it’s often used to show passion. Emotions like anger, love, or shame can all lead to a rising inner temperature and a quickly beating heart, leaving us red with anger, burning with love, or scarlet with shame.
All of that combines to make red—by far—the most emotionally charged color of the entire color spectrum.
Types of reddish pigments and red oil paints (cadmium, alizarin, napthol), where red sits on the color wheel, and even some famous red paintings.
The Color Green: Nature, Growth, and Health
Green is made by mixing blue and yellow, and is a secondary color. It’s also red’s opposite and complementary color on the traditional artist’s color wheel.
The meaning of green: Trees, grass, and shrubs are all predominantly green, which links the color permanently to nature and makes it a symbol of growth and even fertility. Most colors of green also convey a sense of well-being and health.
Types of greenish pigments and green oil paints (viridian, permanent, pthalo), where green sits on the color wheel, and even some famous green paintings.